Trump’s Jerusalem move is a campaign promise that may have left him biting off more than he can chew

As with a number of things that have outraged many outside the White House, it all started with a campaign promise.

President Donald Trump promised that he would move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and on Wednesday, nearing the end of his first year in office he finally followed through. 

Administration officials had refused to confirm the announcement until the day before Mr Trump took to the podium in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, despite numerous reports.

Condemnation, which had become a running theme during the previous few days, came in a torrent after Mr Trump had spoken. Fittingly, it was diplomacy that many other world leaders had worried about – with Mr Trump seeking to overturn decades of American foreign policy by declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel in addition to the embassy move.

Leaders from the region and beyond can rightly wring their hands in anxiety at the thought of protests – and potential violence – as well as progress lost in a peace process that was already looking difficult. There appears to be little immediate political gain for Mr Trump, seemingly the one reason to upset the balance of one of the most thorny issues in world affairs, but to Mr Trump that seems to matter little.

Two of the things the President built his run to the White House on are being different from the political status quo, and the number of definitive promises he made to his base. Some of those, such as the border wall with Mexico and the repeal of Obamacare rely on many others, and some have floundered. But here was a decision that he could make alone and nobody could say Mr Trump does not have the confidence to believe his way is right.

Donald Trump officially recognises Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

It is an easy win for Mr Trump in terms of his supporters, and keeping his word, but also sets him at odds with previous presidents – a place he likes to be. While he signed a new six-month waiver deferring the moving of the US embassy – as every president has done since Congress passed a measure mandating the move in 1995 – he made clear that the waivers didn’t work. He portrayed himself as the man that would be the one to take the step his predecessors couldn’t, even if some of them supported the move before making it into the White House.

That reticence of previous presidents is a pointer of the difficulties that persist over Jerusalem and its place as part of a larger peace accord. But Mr…

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